The Indian government’s department of telecommunication (DoT) will soon be allowed to use Wi-Fi services inside the flights for people flying in flights over Indian airspace. The airlines could charge 20 to 30 percent of the fare to offer the WiFi service. Also, this service could be restricted only to business class travelers.
In-flight Wi-Fi on domestic flights may soon be a reality with 30% excess fare
With in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity, your air travel will soon become more exciting. Although in-flight Wi-Fi isn’t new or certainly even restrictively priced anymore, the power is comparatively exceptional in India. It is because the Indian authorities’ division of telecommunication (DoT) has to this point not allowed the facility on flights over Indian airspace, citing safety and feasibility causes.
The Telecom Commission which is the supreme decision-making body at Department of Telecom(DoT) will approve the proposal at its next meeting which is to be held on May 1. The proposal has received consent from all including the ministry of affairs. The plan will initially offer only data services and slowly will offer voice services too.
Airlines will have to install antennae on planes based on how they decide to receive and send the signals, either over mobile towers on the ground or over satellites. The move may help airlines add value to services for business class travelers on domestic and international routes. It may not be an option for low-cost carriers.
What will be the fare structure of data service on board?
# The pricing of the services will be left to the airlines. The airlines could charge 20 to 30 percent of the fare to offer the Wi-Fi service. In-flight internet connectivity may be too expensive for passengers and airlines in the domestic sector.
# Also this service could be restricted only to business class travelers.
# The charges for in-flight net connectivity would range from Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 for thirty minutes to an hour, according to international standards and taking into account the charges levied by service providers for slots on satellites.
# Airlines have to pay service providers like Inmarsat and others a hefty sum to activate in-flight net connectivity.
# With advance booking fares starting from Rs 1,200 to Rs 2,500 on short domestic routes,
# As the price of organizing the Wi-Fi infrastructure on the plane, in addition to delivering it, remains to be comparatively excessive.
# Globally, airways and repair suppliers cost around $7 (roughly Rs 460) per hour, going as much as $25 (roughly Rs 1650) per day on use masking a number of flights with the identical airline.
How does Mid-Air Wi-Fi technology work?
# Airlines could use either of two technologies to provide Wi-Fi services – air-to-ground (ATG) and satellite-based Ku-band and Ka-band. In case of ATG, ground stations are responsible for sending airwaves that airplanes latch on to, and connect with ground stations.
# Once these signals are picked up, they are converted into standard Wi-Fi signals and then distributed to passengers.
# However, there are some factors that affect the Wi-Fi speeds, such as interference from objects, human bodies and more.
# To ensure stable connectivity, most airlines choose to use satellite-based ‘Ku’ and ‘Ka’ bands.
# For shorter distances on domestic flights Ku-band is an ideal choice, whereas, for long-haul flights traveling at higher altitudes, Ka-band is a perfect choice.
# While Inmarsat offers the connectivity network, hardware providers like Honeywell offer the equipment required for receiving signals from the satellite. It is capable of reaching maximum download speeds of up to 14.2Mbps.
How would in-flight Wi-Fi be helpful for both crews and passengers?
# The in-flight data connectivity may be useful on long-haul flights. It may be good during an emergency.
# Besides offering passengers with a service to access the high-speed internet at 35,000 feet, in-flight Wi-Fi also proves to be helpful for the pilots.
# Pilots can use apps on their smartphones to carry out important information about flight operations.
# Flight crews can also collect weather related data to determine the best flight paths, avoid bad weather conditions and turbulence.
# This also eliminates the need for contacting air traffic control or planes ahead for weather updates.
What about security measures?
As airplanes have evolved over the years from being purely mechanical to a highly interconnected cyber-physical system, it also creates opportunities for cybersecurity attacks.
# The flight crew has complete control of the airplane and they also get the ability to override flight systems.
# Also, the Wi-Fi system in the cabin is only dedicated to the passengers, whereas the network in the cockpit is separate, serving as an additional security measure.
# With connectivity in the cockpit, pilots can communicate with the ATC through a text-message like a system called controller-pilot datalink communications (CPDLC).
# This enables pilots around the world to take advantage of more efficient routes like on traffic between the United States and Europe over the North Atlantic.
As per the report, frequent travelers say that except for a handful of business travelers, there are no takers for in-flight internet even on international routes.
Some airlines allow passengers to use Wi-Fi free of charge for WhatsApp and other messenger services which may not need much bandwidth. Lufthansa, Emirates, British Airways, and Delta are among the airlines that offer the service on international routes.